Three Loves Reveals One Controlling Woman

Old photos of women

If you expect A. J. Cronin’s Three Loves to be one of his typical heartwarming tales of a dedicated doctor, you are in for a shock.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, Lucy Murray married Frank Moore, an easy-going commercial traveler, whom she loves as much for what she thinks she can mold him into as for what he is. She’s willing to do anything for Frank except let Frank decide what he wants done.

Frank’s death in a boating accident for which Lucy was really responsible leaves her to raise their son, Peter, alone. She’s willing to accept any hardship to see that Peter becomes a doctor.

Lucy wrangles her way into Frank’s old job, and does it better than he. When the firm is sold, she is forced to take the only job available: collecting rent in the slums.

Peter gets his degree, but marries a rich girl whose father made his fortune renting the slum dwellings where Lucy collected rents. Lucy’s fortunes sink lower.

She wanders into a church where she falls in love with Jesus and decides to enter holy orders. Instead of the ecstatic spiritual union she seeks, she finds debilitating emotional and physical deprivation.

Lucy’s personality mingles resourcefulness, perseverance, and loyalty with a selfish passion for control, which she calls love. Having established her essential characteristics, Cronin turns her loose and watches what happens.

The novel is uneven. It would be stronger without plot elements Cronin introduces only to drop them again. But despite its flaws, Three Loves is a compelling portrait that readers won’t soon forget.

Three Loves
A. J. Cronin
Little, Brown, 1932
Pyramid Books, 1960
1932 Bestseller #10

Photo credit: “Old photos”  by juliaf  http://www.sxc.hu/photo/706638

© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Published by

Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

One thought on “Three Loves Reveals One Controlling Woman”

  1. As a Cronin fan, I really enjoyed your review. You may be interested to know that the character of Lucy Moore was actually based on Cronin’s mother, Jessie Montgomerie Cronin, a tough but extremely devout lady (judging by the latest biography)!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.